The day after the Texans and Ravens played in Week 14, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak answered questions from the media at Reliant Stadium. The following is a transcript of his interview.
Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak(on the decision to throw the ball on both offensive plays in overtime Monday night) "We could have. My thought process was that I thought we had a lot of momentum in what we were doing. We had their nickel on the field. We had had their nickel on the field for two big, big drives in the fourth quarter and thought that we had a little advantage there. Obviously, it didn't work out that way. I wasn't scared to be aggressive backed up. (QB) Matt (Schaub) handles that good, having come out from our one (yard-line) and our four (yard line) the previous drives. I didn't want to take the aggression away from them, but it obviously didn't work out."
(on how Baltimore DE Haloti Ngata was able to disrupt the play on Baltimore's game-winning interception) "We should have him doubled. It's disappointing. We're in a max protection and we're doing that for that exact reason: to be gap sound inside and give (QB) Matt (Schaub) a chance to throw the ball. In that particular play, we didn't do as good of a job as we have been doing all night long. We protected the quarterback pretty darn good, but in that situation, we did not protect him as well as we need to in order to be successful."
(on what happened with the Texans wide receivers on the last play of the game) "Well they are running identical routes. It's a scheme we call spin. Like I said, we had done it earlier in the game and hit (WR) Kevin (Walter) for about a 15 or 18-yard gain. We're trying to flood one side of the field and max protect. I didn't have a problem with what we were doing. We just didn't get the same protection or the same result that we had got earlier though."
(on the reasons for Houston's slow start on offense Monday night) "Well it was both sides of the ball. Defensively, we didn't play well in the first half either. We gave up too many big plays. We gave up too many long third down plays. We gave up 21 points. We should have at least gotten out of there with 17. Offensively, it was a little bit of the same stuff. We missed a couple of third downs on the first two drives. Then we had a couple drops and just got sloppy. Then we were able to regroup and have a big drive to end the half, to have something positive happen. It was a lot of the same. Possession battle in the first quarter was totally out of whack. I know that's a broken record, but that's kind of where it started. Then we did ourselves a hole again and we've got to find a way to get out of it. It's a combination of things. It wasn't one thing. It wasn't one player. It was a little bit of everything."
(on playing with poor starting field position Monday night) "When you play them, it's going to be. Their kicker, I don't know if y'all know, in 60 kickoffs I think 41 have been touchbacks. This team is built around playing good defense and making people go the long field. Then they're punter (Sam Koch) was excellent in the game. You know when you show up that this team is going to make you work. Hopefully, you're moving the ball where you get the ball on their side of the field and get them pinned a little bit. I think our drives started all night long at the 20 (yard line) and we had the two totally backed up that we converted to touchdowns. When you play the Ravens, you're going to have to go the distance."
(on why the Texans return units have struggled this season) "I think it's been a combination of things; some consistency with people on special teams. Some of our guys who have been big-time special teams players for us, or have now either become starters on defense or they're playing a great deal there. We've lost (FS Dominique) Barber. We lost (MLB) Kevin (Bentley) because Kevin's become a starter. So there's been a lot of change from a standpoint of making it difficult on (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) from a continuity standpoint. We got to block better, we got to run better. We did not expect to have too many opportunities to return kickoffs in this game. I think we returned two. We knew that would be difficult, but that's no excuse for the two we had. We should have been better."
(on how he would grade the Texans special teams overall this season) "I think we've kind of been surviving. That's the word I used last week. I mean, we haven't hurt the football team, in my opinion. Obviously, last night, we gave up a big return, which hurt a great deal. You know, (special teams coordinator) Joe (Marciano) does a hell of a job and we have been pretty consistent there since my time with Joe. But what you're looking for, is you're looking for some big plays, too. Plays that can be the difference. We haven't had a return this year. I think we had two up to this point last year. There are some intangibles there; there's the difference in winning and losing, the difference in another seven points and field position in a game and those type of things. I think those are some of the things we've been lacking. It's been a huge challenge for Joe, week-in and week-out, with our personnel and some of the things that have been happening. I think he's held in there very, very well. But there have been a lot of changes on special teams and a lot of kids that are so-called leaders on special teams that are now being called on to be starters on defense and those type of things. So Joe's losing some of that production."
(on what led to the problems with Houston's coach-to-quarterback radio system Monday night) "Yeah. I've talked with Rick about it today. It's happened a couple times here at home. Don't get me wrong, it's not uncommon to have some issues. It is uncommon to have those issues at home and we've had them, in my opinion, too much. So we've got to get it corrected. Now through that, we did a hell of a job—I shouldn't say we. Our quarterback did one hell of a job because there was a great deal of the time where it was breaking up on us and he handled the situation unbelievably. I mean, (QB) Matt's (Schaub) so smart. It did cost us that one timeout on fourth down because he didn't get the call. It's nothing uncommon to happen during the game, to walk over and say, "We got a problem here. Change the headset. Do this, do that.' But it was a continuous problem of going in and out on us. I should say, No. 8 handled it pretty good. "
(on what he would tell his team after having a day to evaluate the game) "If I was talking to him right now, I'm sure I'd have more things to say. And I will talk to him tomorrow. It's pretty obvious; we started slow, we dug ourselves a tough situation. We played with tremendous character and effort and got ourselves in position to win a game in overtime and we did not get it done. There are a lot of mistakes for us to fix. It's like I tell you all the time, you want to hang on to a lot of the positive things that are going on, but the bottom line, we're all paid to finish and to finish games with wins. So everybody's got to look at themselves very, very hard and say, 'I got to make all of the plays, not some of the plays.' You're striving for perfection in this business; you're always trying to go get it. And if you find it someday, you're going to win and championship and the closer you get to it, the better you are as a football team. So we have to stay committed to each other, to strive for perfection, be hard on each other, to understand that the only way we get through these situations, is through work and demands of each other. That's coaches and players and we will do that."
(on whether he feels like the team is closer to taking the next step) "Are we closer to that? Well, we're playing a lot of these games; that's a good thing. That's what you want to be in. Yeah, I'd like to think we are. We need to go make that play this week to go win at Tennessee. That's part of this game, and I know I say this all the time and I know you're tired of hearing it, but you've got to be willing to play in those games; you've got to be willing to make the right call in those games; you've got to be willing to make the throw, make the catch, to cover. If everybody takes that upon themselves, then somebody pulls you out of it. That's why they have Hall of Famers in this league. That's why guys go to the Hall of Fame; that's why guys go to Pro Bowls, because they're the guys that make those plays in those situations. So somebody's got to step up and do that, and that's coaching as well as playing, but we've got to continue to be hard on ourselves to get that done."
(on what remaining goals the team can achieve this season) "Our goals are week-to-week, to win a game. Obviously, we started this season with the hopes of being a playoff team for the first time in this franchise's history. I don't think, mathematically, we're eliminated. I could be wrong, but it's very, very difficult right now. We need to go to Tennessee and find a way to win a game. We're beat up; we paid a big price last night for that football game. It was a very physical football game and we're going to have to make some changes here and have some new guys step up, but we need to take it a day at a time and find a way to win in Tennessee."
(on the team's injury situation following Monday night's game) "We've got a lot of guys (injured), yes. I can't tell you exactly where we're at, but obviously (WR) David Anderson has an issue right now; (G) Mike Brisiel has an issue; (DE) Mario (Williams) has an issue. We've got some problems, issues, moving forward and we've got a short week, so I'll let you know as we go."
(on whether he would consider sitting DE Mario Williams down due to injury) "The only way is if Mario can help us win, he can play 25-30 plays, which he played last night, then we want him to play and we'll do everything we can to get him to game time. If our doctors think that is not possible and we would hurt Mario in the long haul, we will do what is right by Mario. So that continues to be evaluated."
(on WR David Anderson's injury situation) "He's got a shoulder (injury)."
(on what he would tell Texans fans who are frustrated with the team's losing record) "I guess I would say the same thing I said last night. We're fighting our tails off to win games, and that's why I came to Houston – to win games and to win a championship here – and nothing has changed from that standpoint. We've struggled; it's been a rough seven weeks. It's been tough, but it's not a lack of effort; it's not a lack of work. The work will continue to stay the same. Every game is very meaningful to me and this football team and t0 will continue to be that way. We hope to make them proud of us this week. We hope to go win a game in Tennessee. We're hurting just as bad as they (the fans) are, just like I told y'all last night."
(on ESPN's Steve Young's comment that Houston played like the best team in football for the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter Monday night) "Well, we want to be the best team in football when it's all said and done – not just in the fourth quarter or in the third quarter. And that's a great challenge in this league. You've got 32 people trying to do the same thing, so like I said, there's a lot of good things, but it sure wasn't good enough to get a win. We have to demand of ourselves that it's good enough to get a win. That's what is most important."
(on possibly using more up-tempo rhythm on offense in the future) "You know, we did. I think we tried to do that last night. What we wanted to do in the football game early was run the football and take some big shots. I think you have to make big plays against Baltimore's defense. It's too good to sit there and peck away at them, so we were big play oriented going into the game off of our play action. We had a chance, I think the fourth play of the game to make one and we didn't quite make it. We did go to a no-huddle situation after we went off the field a couple times and we didn't do that very good. We're trying everything. We're trying everybody and everything and we will continue to do that."
(on why he decided to challenge a call Monday night that WR Kevin Walter caught a pass out of bounds) "I have to take that one. As a group (of coaches), we talk about it, but the bottom line is it's my decision. I knew he had his one foot in, and the knee was hard to tell on the scoreboard. I think the points were so important at that time that it was worth a shot, but it was one of those deals that after you throw it, you watch it two or three times and you don't feel very smart, so I wish I wouldn't have."